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Machine Technician: Career Profile

Machine technicians and machinists require significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs and training, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Machine technicians work directly with the fabrication and maintenance of machinery. They may be employed as machinists or mechanical engineering technicians, depending on the technicians' skills and levels of education. Machinists, who often train through apprenticeship programs, usually work in industrial settings, such as automobile manufacturing plants, while mechanical engineering technicians, who have associate's degrees, can work in manufacturing or other types of businesses such as architectural or engineering firms.

CareerMachinistMechanical Engineering Technician
Education RequirementsApprenticeship program Associate's degree in mechanical engineering technology
Job Growth (2012-22)* 9% 5%
Median Salary (2013)* $39,570$52,390

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Profile of Machine Technicians

Machine technicians often serve as machinists or mechanical engineering technicians. Machinists fabricate, operate and repair machines and machine tools. This includes setting up machines prior to production as well as monitoring and correcting them as needed. They work with programmers, engineers and manufacturers to ensure that machines are functional and efficient. Machinists are often employed by aerospace or automobile parts manufacturers as well as screw, nut and bolt manufacturers.

Mechanical engineering technicians, on the other hand, use mechanical theory to develop and modify machines. They may be involved in any or all of the processes of creating a machine, from conception to manufacturing. These technicians may work as part of teams of technicians, which are overseen by head engineers or physical scientists. Mechanical engineering technicians are usually employed in the automobile parts manufacturing, architectural, engineering and research industries.

Individuals in this line of work must be physically fit as well as having an understanding of the entire production process from beginning to end, regardless of their specialty area. Technical and problem-solving skills are also essential.

Educational Requirements

Several community colleges and technical schools offer 2-4-year apprenticeship programs for prospective machinists. Apprentice machinists may expect a mix of hands-on training, classroom instruction and paid study under master machinists. Student and apprentice machinists may learn how to craft metal parts for cars, airplanes and industrial machinery. An associate's degree in mechanical engineering technology is an option for students who wish to focus more on the conception and design aspect of machine technology and become mechanical engineering technicians. Students in these engineering programs may learn about robotics, bioengineering and thermal systems.

Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanical engineering technicians made a median salary of $52,390 in 2013, which equaled $25.19 per hour (www.bls.gov). Machinists' median salary, on the other hand, was $39,570, which equaled $19.03 per hour.

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